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Greek Heroes» Odysseus» Myths about Odysseus » The Blinding of Polyphemus

Last Update: 04 Apr 2021

The Blinding of Polyphemus

On the island of Polyphemus, the fearsome one-eyed monster, Odysseus and his companions remained trapped like birds in a cage.

With all their strength they tried to open the door of the cave, but it was impossible.

Then Odysseus suddenly noticed a large olive branch and a brilliant idea flashed in his mind. He took the branch and with his sword turned it into a large spike. Then he hid the thorn in the dung.

"If we can blind the beast with this stinger, we may be able to escape," said Odysseus, explaining his plan to his companions.

The next evening the terrible Cyclops ate two more of Odysseus' companions without remorse. Then Odysseus gave him a cup of wine, which he drank in one gulp.

"Give me more to drink, and tell me your name. I will return the favor and eat you last."

Odysseus gave him more wine to drink and told him, "My name is Nobody."

The Cyclops drank much, stretched his back, and soon fell asleep. Odysseus then put the wood on the fire, and with the help of his companions he rammed it firmly into the Cyclops' eye.

With a cry of pain, the Cyclops began to shout at the other Cyclops.

"Why on earth are you shouting in the middle of the night?"

"Brothers, no one tried to kill me!"

"Since no one is trying to kill you, why are you screaming? Are you out of your mind? Then beg your father Poseidon to cure you!"

So they told him and left. They were angry and tired.

Polyphemus tried to catch the strangers, but in vain. Soon the sheep began to bleat, and Polyphemus realized that it was dawn. He opened the entrance, but held out his hands to catch the strangers if they dared to leave.

But the cunning Odysseus tied his companions under the rams' bellies and sent them out of the cave. Then he hooked himself under the largest ram and left the cave as well.

Quickly Odysseus and his companions ran aboard their ship and escaped from the doomed island of the Cyclops.

Polyphemus hurling rocks against Odysseus. Painting by Annibale Caracci While they were at sea, Odysseus called out to the blinded Cyclops:

"Polyphemus, thou wild and hostile monster, if anyone asks who blinded thee, tell him it was Odysseus, the son of Laertes of Ithaca!"

Full of despair, Polyphemus seized a huge rock, hurled it to where he heard the voice, and nearly wrecked the ship.

Soon Poseidon would take revenge for blinding his son and send several storms out to sea to torment Odysseus and his men on their next odysseys.

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